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Discount for "bad" translation?
Thread poster: Kathinka van de Griendt

Kathinka van de Griendt  Identity Verified
Local time: 02:36
Member (2004)
German to English
+ ...
Feb 26, 2005

Hello everybody! Yes I know it happens to all of us at some stage, and I know I shouldn't feel too bad about it, but it is my first time and I need advice:
I did a complicated, large translation for an agency. They looked it over, said it was okay and sent it to a proofreader, who also returned it without much ado. Then, 3 weeks later, both the proofreader and I got a mail to say some of the terminology was wrong, would we please correct it. We did. After another 4 weeks I tentatively pointed out that payment was overdue. I was told that they were contesting this payment and offered me 2/3 of the original quote. I had up til then not known that they were contesting, nor do I know what is legal in such a case. Any comments would help.
Regards,
Kathinka


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Evert DELOOF-SYS  Identity Verified
Belgium
Local time: 02:36
Member
English to Dutch
+ ...
Unacceptable Feb 26, 2005

Kathinka Lavelle wrote:

Hello everybody! Yes I know it happens to all of us at some stage, and I know I shouldn't feel too bad about it, but it is my first time and I need advice:
I did a complicated, large translation for an agency. They looked it over, said it was okay and sent it to a proofreader, who also returned it without much ado. Then, 3 weeks later, both the proofreader and I got a mail to say some of the terminology was wrong, would we please correct it. We did. After another 4 weeks I tentatively pointed out that payment was overdue. I was told that they were contesting this payment and offered me 2/3 of the original quote. I had up til then not known that they were contesting, nor do I know what is legal in such a case. Any comments would help.
Regards,
Kathinka


Hi Kathinka,

The facts you describe above are indeed unacceptable.
Are you saying that they actually waited nearly two months before telling you that they'd like to discuss a discount?
Furthermore, on which grounds do they think they can ask for a discount here?
You submitted your translation, their proofreader apparently accepted your work, you entered some corrections etc.
Without knowing all the facts, I'm (still) afraid this outsourcer is trying to earn an extra buck here.

If my clients for whichever reason have an issue with a translation I submitted, I expect them to tell me within a reasonable period of time, i.e. not two months later.
This is also stated in my General Conditions and Terms.

By the way, did your client contest your invoice 'immediately' upon receipt? They apparently didn't.

Anyway, simply send your client a reminder + a copy of your invoice by registered mail, and stand up for your rights, i.e. if all friendly methods fail and you're absolutely certain you didn't make any serious mistakes, enter your comments about this agency at the BB, hand the file over to a debt collection agency, consult with a lawyer (etc) and go for what you deserve.

Good luck!



[Edited at 2005-02-26 11:23]


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Kathinka van de Griendt  Identity Verified
Local time: 02:36
Member (2004)
German to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Thank you Feb 26, 2005

Thanks for the advice, Jazyk. I will certainly follow it!

Kathinka


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Syeda Tanbira Zaman
Local time: 06:06
English to Assamese
+ ...
Unethical trade practice Feb 27, 2005

Do not accept it. They are bound to pay. Any opinion about the quality of a translation is a subjective judgement. If they are not happy with your work, they should stop giving you any more work. This is the mechanism in which the market or any market works. But they cannot withhold payment for the job already done. Tell them "If you do not like my novel, do not buy the next one I am writing. But I am not reducing my price for the first one just because you did not find it cool."

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gad
United States
Local time: 20:36
Member
French to English
It sounds to me as if they acted in bad faith Mar 2, 2005

It sounds to me like the changed the rules after the fact yet somehow they assumed that you would know this. I guess they figure since you changed a bit of the terminology when they asked you to – which, I’m not sure if they realize, but was more work for you, of course – that constituted a “bad” translation on your part, and they automatically reduced the bill without telling you. It doesn’t sound exactly like they’re on the up-and-up, particularly because, why didn’t they communicate this to you at the time and, did they even say when they are going to pay you at all? It kind of sounds fishy that this is information you had to ASK for – this may be an excuse not to pay, because no payment was forthcoming and that’s why you were contacting them.

I would think that if you have an attorney, contact him or her, otherwise maybe others here have some input, but it sounds like they acted in bad faith.

And I’m sorry this happened to you. This is an example of how the field of translation is sometimes just not respected as a true profession, by those who do not know what it takes to be a translation professional.


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Kathinka van de Griendt  Identity Verified
Local time: 02:36
Member (2004)
German to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Thank you! Mar 3, 2005

Thanks for your input, gad, my thoughts exactly! What upsets me most is that I have been working for them for over a year. I had to remind them about payment after 8 weeks and THEN had to learn about the reduction of price. Terms were, as always, 30 days. I have done two other translations for them since, and there was not a word about dissatisfaction with my work, so this really took me by surprise. Their BB-rating is good, although they are relatively "slow" payers and need a nudge or two occasionally. I do have an attorney, but as yet am not legally insured, so this would probably cost me more than its worth, which is what they are perhaps banking on. Maybe I should just "take what I can get", write them off as bad assets, and tell them to look for another translator! Unfortunately, there are plenty of others willing to work under such conditions.
Thanks again!
Kathinka


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rebekka
United Kingdom
Local time: 01:36
Russian to English
+ ...
call their bluff Mar 4, 2005

There may be "plenty of others willing to work under such conditions", but the buck stops with each of us: if your work is good, you can afford to lay down the law...

My advice would be to call their bluff: send them a letter by recorded delivery, printed in red ink, stating that if they don't pay the bill within 10 days you will be reporting them as bad payers and referring the bill to a debt collector. Point out that if they wish to contest the bill they should still have paid the uncontested amount immediately to avoid incurring interest charges for late payment. I agree that pursuing the matter in the small claims court might end up costing you more than it's worth, but just a letter on headed paper from a solicitors' firm can work wonders. Firms like this one will continue to operate this way unless you take a stand: don't allow yourself to be bullied.


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Kathinka van de Griendt  Identity Verified
Local time: 02:36
Member (2004)
German to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
You're right, of course! Mar 4, 2005

Rebekka Lake wrote:

...but the buck stops with each of us: if your work is good, you can afford to lay down the law...

... Firms like this one will continue to operate this way unless you take a stand: don't allow yourself to be bullied.


Thanks, Rebekka - that gave me the jolt I needed! Your input is much appreciated!
Regards,
Kathinka


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Evert DELOOF-SYS  Identity Verified
Belgium
Local time: 02:36
Member
English to Dutch
+ ...
Quality assessment of a translation is not always subjective Mar 4, 2005

Syeda Tanbira Zaman wrote:

Any opinion about the quality of a translation is a subjective judgement."


I disagree here. The quality of a translation is certainly not always 'a subjective judgement'.
What about wrong terminology, inaccuracies, spelling mistakes, punctuation errors, lack of consistency... easy to measure, believe me.

I refuse to pay for translations which contain far too many mistakes, i.e. I certainly take appropriate measures and/or I expect a commercial gesture.


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Kathinka van de Griendt  Identity Verified
Local time: 02:36
Member (2004)
German to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
I agree! Mar 4, 2005

Evert DELOOF-SYS wrote:

I refuse to pay for translations which contain far too many mistakes, i.e. I certainly take appropriate measures and/or I expect a commercial gesture.


Hello Evert,
I totally agree. I wouldn't have minded the agency contesting my work, asking for discount or even getting one without having to ask for it, if they had told me when they received my translation and invoice. However, I do object to their handling the situation, i.e. letting me wait 8 weeks, making me remind them about the outstanding amount and THEN only telling me they weren't satisfied enough to pay the whole amount. That isn't exactly "Quality control", now is it?


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